When other people talk about being bad knitters, I try to reassure them that knitting takes practice. And no one is judging their mistakes.
For example, last week one of my classmates mentioned that she never felt comfortable going to a SNB because she didn’t think she was “good enough at knitting.” I assured her that SNBs were open to all skill levels and that the other knitters would welcome her enthusiastically. We’ve all been beginners at some point.
Then the next day, the woman sitting next to me on the train mentioned that she learned to knit last year. But she said she doesn’t do it much because she’s “horrible at it.” I laughed and said “you just can’t let that get in the way.”
What I should have said is that everyone is horrible at first, and it gets much easier the more you do it. And that the great thing about knitting is that it really doesn’t matter if you suck. The important thing is that you enjoy doing it.
That’s what I say to other people. And I believe it when I say it.
But in my own life, I strenuously avoid things I’m not good at, and I have a near-pathological terror of making mistakes (though not so much with the knitting, thankfully, given my mistake-to-success ratio).
I seem to think I should already be good at everything, even things that take practice. When I struggle or make mistakes, I feel stupid and slow, and I berate myself for it. Like if I were just a better/more focused/smarter/dedicated person I could magically develop skills out of the ether.
This often keeps me from trying new things, taking risks or making commitments. The prime example? I want to write. And I’m not giving myself time or permission to write because I’m desperately afraid I’ll suck at it.
No more. Because maybe I don’t have to be good at it right away, and maybe my writing doesn’t have to be perfect. I just need to do it.
Because it’s important to me. And because doing it - even badly – would be better than not doing it at all.
Much like knitting.
(Please note, I’m not implying that blogging isn’t writing or that it’s less valuable or less demanding than other kinds of writing. I'm talking about writing fiction).